Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jane - On Writing

This week I’ve fueled my Jane Austen obsession by having a Jane Austen marathon. (Hey, don’t I deserve something for writing “the end” on novel number five?) First I watched the 2008 Sense and Sensibility, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After that, Miss Austen Regrets, a biopic on the later years of Jane’s life, which is a very inspiring movie for writers.  Last, but not least, I listened to an audio program detailing Jane Austen’s life. Needless to say after all this I’m inspired to pick up Pride and Prejudice for yet another read.
While listening to the audio program it dawned on me that much of the writing advice Jane Austen gave others during her life is very applicable to writers today. So pick up your quill pens and don your bonnets and we’ll take a trip to England, into Jane Austen’s novels and her personal correspondence.

On Rewrites     
I hope when you have written a great deal more, you will be equal to scratching out some of the past. Letter to her niece Anna

On A Bad Writing Day (it seems even Jane had those)
I don’t know what is the matter with me today, but I cannot write quietly; I am always wandering into some exclamation or other. Fortunately I have nothing very particular to say. Letter to her sister Cassandra.
On Conquering Writers Block
I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on, till I am. Letter to her sister Cassandra.
On Clichés
I abhor every commonplace phrase by which wit is intended; and ‘setting one’s cap at a man,’ or ‘making a conquest’ are the most odious of all. Their tendency is gross and illiberal; and if their construction could ever be deemed clever, time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity. Sense and Sensibility.
On Improving Sentence Structure
I begin already to weigh my words and sentences more than I did and am looking about for a  sentiment, an illusion, or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my ideas flow as fast as the rain in the storecloset, it would be charming. Letter to her sister Cassandra.
On What Topic To Choose For Your First Novel  
You are now collecting your people delightfully, getting them exactly into such a spot as is the delight of my life. Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on. Letter to her niece Anna (who was writing her first novel)
On Why Jane Wouldn’t Have Liked Flash Fiction
For my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short. The Juvenilia of Jane Austen
On Why Flawed Characters Are Best
He and I should not in the least agree, of course, in our ideas of novels and heroines; - pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked. Letter to her niece Fanny.
On Less than a Five Star Review
Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains about the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our novels have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so less decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. Northanger Abbey
And last but not least,
On A Good Novel
It is only a novel…or, in short, some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineations of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language. Northanger Abbey.

So there you have it. Advice on writing from one of the greatest authors of all time. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Jane’s quotes as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them.

Your Turn – Which of these quotes did you enjoy most? Were you surprised as to how little things have changed in what makes up good writing?

Special "SEEKERVILLE" Giveaway!!!
On Wednesday, January 11th, I am doing a guest post on Seekerville! In honor of this special post, I am giving away six books by some of the Seekerviller writers. You can find the post at:  Leave a comment on Seekerville this Wednesday, along with your email and you could possible win one of the following: A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman, Out of Control by Mary Connealy, An Inconvenient Match by Janet Dean, Love By The Book by Cara Lynn James, A Family For Faith by Missy Tippens, or Mended Hearts by Ruth Logan Herne. The winners will be contacted and announced on the Seekerville Weekend Edition.

Happy Writing,



kristen said...

I love the one about collecting your people delightfully! We do collect people don't we?! It's so fun.
Thanks for the post. I also love Jane Austen Regrets! So many good stories:)
Have a great day!

Naomi Rawlings said...

How fun to see you on Seekerville this week! And I'd have to say the cliche quote is my favorite. Though truly, Jane Austen isn't my favorite author. Please don't throw rotten tomatoes at me for admitting that publicly!

Amanda said...

Kirsten, that quote is one of my favs too. Jane Austen certainly did know how to collect her people delightfully.

Naomi, of course I'm not going to throw rotten tomatoes at you. LOL. Admittedly, most of the time I'd rather watch a movie adaptation of a classic author's book, than read the book although I do read quite a bit of classic lit. And I love that quote about clichés.